Rimantė Daugėlaitė • Head, Baltic Pitching Forum
“Our strength is that the Baltic Pitching Forum is one of the few events where you can meet so many Baltic filmmakers at once”
- The head of the forum told Cineuropa how it became the Baltic region’s leading short-film industry event and what to expect from this year’s edition
Cineuropa sat down with Rimantė Daugėlaitė, head of the Baltic Pitching Forum (BPF). The Baltic gathering will unspool for the tenth time in Vilnius from 5-8 October. During our conversation, Daugėlaitė talked us through the forum’s ten-year history, how it rose to prominence as the leading short-film industry marketplace in the region and what to expect from this year’s edition.
Cineuropa: What is Baltic Pitching Forum’s mission? When did you launch it?
Rimantė Daugėlaitė: The BPF was established in 2013 as the industry event of the Vilnius International Short Film Festival. One of the goals was to have a marketplace for short filmmakers from Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. We started by including the whole region, since our industry is quite small. The Baltic Pitching Forum consists of an online script consultation for all of the selected projects, followed by a three-day training and pitching event alongside one-to-one meetings with film professionals from all over Europe. Individual consultations with an experienced scriptwriting expert take place in the first week of September, whilst the forum event is held in October in Vilnius. The core idea is to invite teams with their short-film ideas, so that they can network and present their projects to European professionals. From the very beginning, we started inviting a panel of seven international experts, so that they could meet the filmmakers and hear their ideas, but also get acquainted with our region and our industry.
How has the event gained traction over the last few years and achieved its current position within the industry?
I think our strength is that BPF is one of the few events where you can meet so many Baltic filmmakers at once. And you won’t find any marketplace where you can see so many new short-film projects from this region. Besides, we are seeing that more and more international co-productions are moving forward after the forum. For example, in 2015, Lithuanian animation producer Agnė Adomėnė took part in the forum and co-produced her project, Anu-Laura Tuttelberg’s Winter in the Rainforest, with Estonian and Mexican partners. The movie premiered at Annecy and played at some other festivals, such as Bucheon, Animafest and Clermont-Ferrand. Still in 2015, Laurynas Bareiša pitched By the Pool, which premiered at Venice in 2017 and gave him a push before embarking on his debut feature, Pilgrims [+see also:
interview: Laurynas Bareisa
film profile], which emerged triumphant in Orizzonti last year. We can share this type of tangible result. People come here, meet, they present their ideas, and they work together after the forum.
What about some more recent success stories?
This year, two BPF alumni projects were pitched in Nordisk Panorama’s Nordic Short Film Pitch, presented alongside ten Nordic projects to a group of international decision makers. Nordisk Panorama invited BPF as the institutional partner entrusted to choose the two projects. Moreover, this year, two BPF alumni, Alise Rogule, of Latvia’s Mima Films, and Juste Michailinaite, of Lithuania’s Broom Films, took part in the New Producers Room (NPR) organised by the Cannes Short Film Corner. NPR aims to shine a spotlight on ten up-and-coming producers and offer them a space where they can explore co-production opportunities, attend dedicated sessions and strengthen their network. Besides, BPF’s reputation has also been strengthened by our awards, which prove the strong and important collaborations it has established over the last ten years.
What kind of partners have been supporting BPF along the way?
Some of our main Baltic partners are actually co-organisers, since they started working with us from the very beginning. These are the Riga International Short Film Festival 2ANNAS, the Riga International Film Festival, PÖFF Shorts and the Estonian Short Film Center. Together, we establish the agenda, the invited panellists and the selected projects. Our institutional partners include the Lithuanian Film Centre and the film institutes from the guest countries.
What can we expect from this year’s edition in terms of the selected projects and side events?
We will showcase 12 projects, three each from Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Norway. What is interesting is that in this year’s selection, we have an unusually low number of animated productions, since most of them are fiction projects and at a very early development stage. Invited directors and producers will receive pitching training. Then we’ll have the pitching sessions, which will take place in front of the international panel and the Baltic Producers Jury. This year, the international panel is made up of Andy Norton (festival distributor at Finland’s Raina Films), Julie Rousson (coordinator of the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival’s Euro Connection), Ben Vandendaele (sales agent at Belgium’s Radiator IP Sales), Vanya Rainova (producer at Bulgaria’s Portokal), Sari Volanen (commissioning editor at YLE), Eugénie Bottereu (managing director of Italy’s Talents and Short Film Market) and Carla Vulpiani (sales agent at Varicoloured and advisor for the Venice Film Festival), whilst the Baltic Producers Jury includes Marianne Ostrat of Estonia’s Alexandra Film, Aija Bērziņa of Latvia’s Tasse Film and Uljana Kim of Lithuania’s Studio Uljana Kim. We’ll also have some open lectures and presentations. For example, one lecture will focus on short-film acquisitions in the TV sector, and it will be presented by Sari Volanen, whilst another one, titled “Sustainable Film Production: A Short Film Guide to Rethink Your Workflow”, will be presented by Ludovica Chiarini, of Italy’s EcoMuvi. The latter will centre on sustainability in short-film production. Moreover, we will host a presentation of four European short-film markets – namely, the Talents and Short Film Market, the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Market, the T-Port Online Short Film Market and Cannes’ Short Film Corner. On the last day, we’ll host, for the first time, a discussion about co-producing shorts in the Baltic countries with a group of experienced producers from the region: alongside Ostrat, Bērziņa and Kim will be Agnė Adomėnė, of Lithuania’s Art Shot, and Marija Razgutė, of Lithuania’s M-films.
This year, the BPF alumni shorts will be screened on the T-Port platform, correct?
Yes. For the first time ever, we decided to collect the highlights of our past editions, so we picked a pool of films produced through the forum. Any industry professional with a profile on T-Port will be able to access our shorts. The catalogue now includes 17 titles, but hopefully we’ll have more films available soon. The goal of creating this collection was to show the very concrete results of the BPF, and invite industry colleagues to get to know the Baltic talents and explore their works. I think that all of these films clearly demonstrate a unique cinematic language and the potential of these promising creative voices from the region.
What are BPF’s long-term plans?
We aim to grow. In 2019, when the “guest country” initiative appeared, the goal was to invite countries from the Baltic Sea region which are actively working in the field of short-film production. This year, Norway is our guest country, and we’ll expand our scope by inviting our guest country from any part of Europe. We’re planning to have Greece as our next one.
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